Monday, February 6, 2017

Mary Magdalene - what an evangelist!


This week, we are studying Mary Magdalene. Among other things, she was the first one that Jesus revealed Himself to, after He arose from the dead.

There are several boatloads of legends about her. In fact, Mary Magdalene may be more well known for the unproven details and the false stories about her life, than she is for what we actually see in the Word! She is often identified as a former prostitute, but I couldn't find anything truly concrete to base that on when I studied. People frequently identify her with the sinful woman from the city, who washed Jesus' feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair -- but we discussed that before, and you can go back if you like and re-read those posts. Some people even confuse her with Mary of Bethany, Martha and Lazarus' sister, but they are two different people.

Who was she really? And why did Jesus appear to her first? Doesn't it make more sense that He would appear to Peter first, perhaps? Since He said Peter would be the rock the church was built on?

Let's look at one of the passages we'll focus on:
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”16 “Mary!” Jesus said.She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message. (John 20:1-18)

Awesome!
Just like at the birth of Jesus, when the angels announced His birth to the shepherds, we can see here that God is no "respecter of persons." He doesn't look at people the way we humans do!
At His birth, the angels didn't tell the wealthy and powerful people. They told the news to the lowly and poor people of the day.
And here, when He's risen from the dead, it's announced to the lowly again. We know that women in that day were considered second-class citizens, at best. Women were not permitted to do many things that men routinely did. They were looked down upon, and treated as property. (Take a look at many countries today that practice what is called "sharia" law, and women are still treated in this way.)  It was so bad that a woman's testimony in a court of law wasn't even permitted -- they couldn't vouch for, or testify about, anything. And yet, Jesus went against all of this, and appeared to Mary Magdalene, and said to go tell the others . . .

Mary Magdalene loved her Savior and Teacher deeply, and she held an important place in His life and ministry. She was one of the women who traveled with the disciples and Jesus, and supported their ministry and efforts. She was present at His crucifixion and at His burial. And she had come early in the morning to the empty tomb. She was the first to see the resurrected Lord.

I think we need to know more about her . . . I'm thinking we can learn from her. Join me this week, if you will, to study Mary Magdalene.

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